Tuesday, February 21, 2017

In the News: KQED

Grace Cathedral Hosts an Eclectic, Musical ‘Elegy For Ghost Ship’

Grace Cathedral, whose architecture famously shapes the sound of music performed there, will host a Ghost Ship memorial show Feb. 23.
Grace Cathedral, whose architecture famously shapes the sound of music performed there, will host a Ghost Ship memorial show Feb. 23. (via SF JAZZ)
It’s been nearly three months since the Oakland Ghost Ship fire took the lives of 36 people, leaving behind a massive void in the Bay Area’s underground music scene.

It makes sense, then, that the shows and fundraisers to honor the victims (of which there have been many) tend to include impressively diverse, genre-crossing lineups. Elegy For Ghost Ship: An Evening of Music In Remembrance, taking place this Thursday, Feb. 23, at San Francisco’s beautiful Grace Cathedral, is no exception. Organized by Gabriel Connor (a friend of fire victim Cash Askew), and the Reverend Megan Rohrer (who, like Askew, is trans), the event offers an inclusive space to those affected by the fire.

“After losing a good friend in the fire and being with many other grieving friends, I felt compelled to seek out the mercy of a sacred space where all could grieve, heal, and raise up visions,” Connor writes in an email. “Grace Cathedral has a universal appeal among Bay Area residents. The Cathedral also enjoys a history as a beacon for LGBT rights. The architecture and acoustics alone evoke profound feelings that carry beyond the Christian tradition.” He noted that several other event organizers as well as performers had lost loved ones in the fire.

The bill of performers currently includes acclaimed throat-singer Enrique Ugalde (aka Soriah); Nethorthot Luku of Earth Child (performing the Japanese art of Butoh); Katabik (a label/music collective playing “estoeric ambient sounds”); the S.P.A.Z. collective (ambient electronica); violinist Maki Ishii Sowash and cellist Victoria Ehrlich of the San Francisco Opera orchestra; Jealous (hypnotic bass guitarist and songwriter Mark Treise); Oakland post-punk band The World; experimental music from Aja Archuleta a.k.a. Piano Rain; Jason Cool on sitar; Singers of the Street (a choir of people who are/have been homeless); readings from Reverends Lyle Beckman and Megan Rohrer, and more.

The cathedral itself, of course, could be considered another performer of sorts; the likes of Duke Ellington have selected its chambers for their unique effect on live music. Non-audio components set up throughout the space will include projections by Terry Estioko from “Viberation,” Sabina Luu and Mike Cascino. Organizers plan to arrange an altar at which attendees can place offerings for victims as well. 

“A wide range of tones will be heard Thursday night: we’ll have both a solemn funeral and an ecstatic wake; the sacred and secular will voice a common prayer,” says Connor of the evening’s programming.
“Artist communities in the Bay Area are facing a lack of hospitality and gratitude,” he added, explaining the choice of Grace Cathedral as a venue. “Studio spaces are becoming condos; bars and other gathering places have been rooted up and replaced by an unneighborly and hyper-commercial scene.”
The hosting by a church isn’t without precedent: in the weeks after the Ghost Ship fire, Oakland’s Chapel of the Chimes hosted a number of musical gatherings for mourners. “In times like these, it is especially important for churches and centers of faith to open their doors and provide shelter, light, and a canvas,” Connor says. “Arts warehouses and churches are not so different; they are each collective bodies, seeking wisdom, doing justice, laboring not for profit but for truth and beauty.”
‘Elegy For Ghost Ship: An Evening of Music In Remembrance’ takes place at 7:45pm on Thursday, Feb. 23, at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Free; more info here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

In the News: BAR

Concert planned for Ghost Ship victims

Reverend Megan Rohrer
Photo: Courtesy Facebook

For survivors and loved ones, the emotional wounds inflicted by the December 2 fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland still run deep, according to the Reverend Megan Rohrer, a trans person who leads Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco's Sunset neighborhood.

The fire broke out at 11:20 p.m. on a Friday night as people were enjoying an evening of music and dancing. At least three of the 36 people who died identified as trans, including Cash Askew, a popular musician and DJ.

Next Thursday, February 23, Rohrer, other faith leaders, healers, as well as artists and musicians will participate in "Elegy for Ghost Ship: An Evening of Music in Remembrance" at Grace Cathedral atop San Francisco's Nob Hill.

Rohrer organized the evening with Gabriel Connor, 22, who attends Grace Lutheran. Connor, who preferred not to say how he identifies, said he was a close friend of Askew's.

Connor approached Rohrer with the idea for the elegy and the two worked together on organizing the event.

"When a tragedy happens in our community we need a lot of opportunities to mourn," Rohrer told the Bay Area Reporter. "When the original tragedy happens the first thing we do is mourn the victims and care for the survivors. Then we attend to the people who may have had similar tragedies in their lives and who might be affected by seeing this in the news media."
Rohrer also noted that first responders and parents who imagine losing children in such a tragedy might also be in need of guidance and healing.

Connor said that he doesn't want people to think that those at Ghost Ship were there because of marginalization by society.

"Many people were there not out of being relegated but out of being empowered," he said. "Out of their relegation they found empowerment at Ghost Ship."

Connor also does not want the victims to be forgotten.

"They deserve a bit of recompense from the communities they inhabit," he said.
Rohrer said the evening would be one of musical remembrance.

"There will also be poetic spoken word and faith offerings, as well as light projection with some instrumental sounds," Rohrer explained.

Rohrer, who prefers gender-neutral pronouns, said that pews would be removed from the sanctuary so that people could move about freely to partake of the various performances that will take place simultaneously.
"This is a true warehouse experience but in a cathedral," they said. "The acoustics at Grace Cathedral are very bouncy so people can choose their own adventure."

Participants scheduled to appear include SOS Singers of the Street, a chorus of homeless people that Rohrer leads; throat singer Enrique Ugalde; and opera diva Marissa Lenhardt Patton. Students from the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts are also expected to participate.

Ambient sounds will be provided by Katabatik-Jay Fields, while Terry Estioko will offer video projections. The Very Reverend Dr. Malcolm Clemens Young of Grace Cathedral will also be present.
"Ghost Ship," a new poem written by singer-songwriter Judy Collins and posted on her Facebook page December 18, will be read as part of the elegy.

"Given the political climate we live in every opportunity to use art and to find hope and counter divisiveness is an opportunity to embody the world we all deserve," Rohrer said, referring to the Trump administration. "Art is healing. People of all economic statures deserve a safe space to make and enjoy art. These spaces should be open to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities."
The concert is part of the cathedral's "Spacious Grace," an annual free-form arts festival.

"Elegy for Ghost Ship" will take place February 23 from 8 to 10 p.m. at Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street. No admission will be charged, but donations will be accepted. Proceeds to benefit the Trans Assistance Project in Oakland.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Little Ones

Laurel and I are excited to let you know that we will are in the foster adopt process for two children (siblings) aged 3 and 4.  We will be meeting them on Friday and starting the process of inviting them to join us at our house in San Francisco.

While they are in foster care, we ask that individuals refrain from taking photos of the children or sharing their names online.  For their privacy, Laurel and I will not be able to answer questions about their medical, legal or family histories.  Helping us honor their confidentiality is an important part of the foster/adopt process, so we thank you in advance for your help.

After letting the congregation know about their pending arrival on Sunday, we have already begun to receive some hand-me-down toys and clothing.  While unexpected, we are very grateful for these gifts and since we do not yet know the children who will be joining us.  Understanding that these gifts are a beautiful part of the support system that we have as community members and as a part of our loving congregation, we have decided to put a donation bin in the fellowship hall for foster children.

Once we meet our children and find out their sizes and tastes, some of the items may be used for them.  Items that are of unneeded sizes or tastes will be passed along to other foster children in need of clothes, toys and care.  We  are proud that our good news will also bring much needed support to the needs of foster children in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Again, no gifts are expected.  We're simply providing the lists for those parents out there who can imagine the countless things we may need when a 3 and 4 year old arrive at our house.  We  trust your wisdom and are happy to help you clean out your house!

Those who don't have hand-me-downs who want to give gifts to our new arrivals can find items on this Amazon list (which will be updated as we learn more about the kiddos) or help us obtain family memberships to some of the places we imagine taking the little ones to:

Items may be delivered or sent to the church: Pastor Megan, Grace Lutheran, 3201 Ulloa St, San Francisco, CA 94116.

Most of all, we hope that you will keep us in your prayers as our family grows.  And if you find yourself in the pews at Grace Lutheran that you will be patient when some new little ones begin joining us for worship.

Thank you again for all your love and support!

Pastor Megan